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Coming to Terms With Data Destruction Terminology

Data has grown exponentially in the past decade, and with this growth it has become more vulnerable to attacks. International data standards surrounding data storage, handling, and destruction, including the recent behemoth GDPR, have been signed into law to curb dangerous and negligent data practices among public and private companies and institutions.

Under these modern realities, proper data destruction is at the helm of data security best practices and integrity. There is a surge in demand for solid data destruction planning, and businesses are stepping up in droves to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic consequences that can accompany negligence, among them nightmarish data breaches or stolen customer identifications that can potentially sink the entire ship after the fact of exorbitant fines and punishments for whatever remissness may have contributed.

Similarly, becoming knowledgeable about GDPR guidelines is paramount to conforming to its strict regulations, which define the scope of how data protection best practices are to be carried out around the globe. Knowing the difference between data wiping and deletion, for instance, may not seem relevant, but for companies dealing with the fallout from improper data disposal, it’s worth the time it takes to understand the scope of this critical service so that hardware and storage devices may be recycled, reused, and resold safely and securely.

Know what you’re talking about when shopping for an ITAD vendor

Data destruction has many elements, and to avoid a misstep, it’s critical to become familiar with the industry’s terminology in order to understand exactly what processes are necessary to avoid a data disaster with a decommissioned hard drive, server, or any other electronic data storage device containing sensitive information. The following is a short terminology guide to help make sense of some of the terms and definitions related to ITAD services like data destruction, and to understand that sometimes, businesses offering tech hardware recycling and data sanitization don’t go the extra mile to protect their clients from the real dangers, which can be problematic for those who are uninformed.


Degaussers use magnets to realign the small magnetic fields within data storage media, which virtually scrambles the data and makes it unreadable. While degausser is effective at smaller size hard drives, it has no effects on Solid State Drives. And also the other downside is that it makes the hard drives unusable, meaning there is no resale potential, which is undesirable when a piece of equipment could provide a solid return on investment and could be reused instead of ending up in a landfill.


Formatting a hard drive is commonly known and practiced even among consumer-level users, and essentially means the hard drive’s files are removed so a new operating system can be installed. Of course, this is not at all a secure method, since there are forensic tools available online, even for free, to aid in the recovery of the data that was removed.


The physical destruction of IT equipment, including shredding, can destroy any trace of data in some devices, but there are several flaws with this method. For one, solid state hard drives can pass through a shredder with data still intact, since the integrated circuit (IC) on which the data is stored can pass through a shredder.


When data is deleted from a hard drive, it is simply sent into hiding. The data is fully recoverable unless it is overwritten. Speaking of which:


Erasure is the heavy hitter of the industry. It’s the most certain way to destroy data to the point of being irretrievable, and certifiably so. Erasure, also known as data destruction and wiping, overwrites the data so that it is no longer accessible. The completion of the destruction is able to be verified through reporting, can undergo multi-pass wiping, and is fully reportable, since the process is completed using software. This is not to be confused with file shredding, which similarly overwrites files with a system of binary 1’s and 0’s but cannot be verified or certified.

To comply with all international standards and regulations, and protect consumer, corporate, and private data security, data destruction is the best option. Look for fully reportable software that provides proof for auditing and resale. The risks are far too great to accept anything less.